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2-01-2012 @ 2:10PM
I love this subject. It flies in the face of such widely held beliefs.There are no such thing as bad words. Words are only bad because we make them bad. I refuse to assign any power to certain words just because society believes they are different.However, I worry because of two things. People expect some right to not be offended by what other people do, say, think, or feel. People also don't realize that being offended is a choice.
2-01-2012 @ 2:19PM
And being an offensive dbag with no thought to anyone but yourself is also a choice.
2-01-2012 @ 2:23PM
You can block certain words out. Maybe you can block all words out. I'm sure there are little things that get to you. Problem is subconsciously, you may be bottling these things up. You may or may not even be aware of it. Or you could be the most well adjusted person on the planet. Different things work for different people.
2-01-2012 @ 2:36PM
Tell that to your kid's grade 1 teacher.Better still, tell that to MY kid's grade 1 teacher. Because she begs to differ.
2-01-2012 @ 2:42PM
Most people don't live in a bubble. When you interact with a particular society, it would behoove you to educate yourself what is or is not polite or offensive. Just a thought.
2-01-2012 @ 2:54PM
Clundgren, I think that most of us here on wow insider are adults, and we are smart enough to know that what drum is saying refers to adult conversation. Kids can be very sensitive, as well as very cruel, and I think most reasonable people would not expect a 6 year old to filter out what we have the ability to filter out as adults. No need to bring up impressionable young children, doesn't seem salient to the topic at hand.
2-01-2012 @ 2:56PM
It's fun pretend that you are above it all, but the fact of the matter is that, like it or not, you are part of the society, and, therefore, down here with the rest of us. I'll give you the point that there are no "bad" words, but there are socially inappropriate words. What you are basically saying is that you are the sole judge of what is and isn't offensive, and that people can simply choose to not be offended. Unfortunately, there are very real pains and experiences that come with some of the words that you claim have no power. Personally, I'm more offended by intolerance than words, but I'm aware enough to know that certain language is inappropriate or harmful. Bottom line, language can show respect or it can show disregard for others, and pretending that you can magically step outside the social-cultural rhetoric is narcissistic at best and wildly irresponsible.
2-01-2012 @ 3:10PM
'It's now very common to hear people say, "I'm rather offended by that", as if that gives them certain rights. It's no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. "I'm offended by that." Well, so fucking what?' - Stephen Fry.It's true. People feel like if something somehow offends their sensibilities, then they now have the right to crusade against you until you are no longer able to do whatever it is you were doing any longer. If you're offended by someone's language learn to be an adult, and stop taking everything you see an anonymous stranger say online as if someone's burning a cross in your front yard.
2-01-2012 @ 3:15PM
i disagree, for the most part. bad words do exist. they exist because they have meaning. they exist because of historical precedent. their use and associations drive their meaning; their meaning derives from their use. their meaning and society's beliefs are intertwined. the entire thing is circular and inter-related. that's like saying, "this duck is only a duck because people say it's a duck". ok...but the reality is that it's still a duck, just as words are still offensive. just as you readily admit in your analogy...the words are still bad. they exist..there is such thing as a bad word. they're bad because they draw negative associations and inferences, carry hurtful implications, the whole nine yards.let me be clear from the outset: i curse as colloquially as the next guy, but i also objectively recognize and respect the power of words and language, and adjust my behavior with respect to my surroundings and company. it's not always so much as what's said as what they mean. of course people have a right to not be offended! by your line of reasoning, it's ok if you call an african american a n**g*r...whether or not they are offended is their problem, regardless of the centuries of hate, bigotry, violence, and ignorance behind that word that you threw at them in half an instant. the only reason you would use a word like that in modern usage would be to cause someone harm; to imply they are beneath you; to imply they are less of a person. as anne said in the article above: to make a power play. a cruel and hateful power play to show your self-created superiority. but all that's ok...because being offended is their choice. you, as the speaker, should be absolved of responsibility for your actions. likewise, when you call a woman a bitch, or a whore, or a slut. whether or not you mean it literally, the intent is to harm. even if they take it and own it, even if you're using it colloquially, the intent is to associate the person you are speaking to with an image of a man or woman that historically is an object of shame and ridicule because they sell their bodies for money or drugs. this person, you are saying, has so little worth or value that they are like those that take the most sacred thing, "the self", and debase it to the extreme; make it worth whatever the next john is willing to pay or give, degrading themselves and humiliating themselves voluntarily. but that's ok...because being offended is in the hands of the abused, not the abuser. same goes for fa*g*t, k*ke, or any other bad word.whether you purposefully intend such an implication is immaterial: the word still means what it means regardless of your choice to "assign [it] power", and your line of reasoning absolutely ignores reality. of course a lot can be said for context, but i'm going to ignore colloquial use as an anomaly for the purposes of this discussion. my beef is with people who justify deliberate, non-colloquial use of bad language.this is my problem with people that try to justify cruel, ignorant, and careless speech: they simply shift the burden to the listener and cover themselves with the, "i can say what i want and if you don't like it it's your problem" shield. but in doing so they fail to recognize that communication is a two way street: blathering idiots that try to justify their slurs and slander think that they're talking to robots who have no right to react...it's unrealistic, short-sighted, ignorant, and small-minded. it's a way to psychologically distance themselves from the hurt they cause other people via an implied dehumanization.i don't care if you identify yourself as a bitchy, cocky, smart mouthed New Yorker who curses like a sailor and are proud of it; nor do i care if you ID yourself as a down home redneck who also curses like a sailor; nor do i care that George Carlin did it, may he rest in hilarious peace; nor do i care for any other shallow justifications anyone hopes to offer, like any argument along the lines of, "well you could call someone a pumpkin and it would be hurtful because he has a rare genetic disorder that makes his skin orange and his head round! is pumpkin a bad word, then?" reductio ad absurdum arguments such as those try to side step the point: bad words are bad because of intent and history, and you cannot ignore either under the umbrella of, "i can say what i want and it's your fault if you're offended".sorry for the wall of text...but this self-centered attitude really riles me up.TL; DR: words have power, and like anything with power it should be respected and taken seriously, especially in light of its potential for abuse. be realistic about language's complexity and its effect on others, and give the people standing in your midst the courtesy and respect they deserve.
2-01-2012 @ 3:30PM
Highly recommend reading the entire post by Matt above me. I was going to comment with similiar ideas, but he nailed it. Well said, sir.
2-01-2012 @ 3:59PM
Stating that we choose to be offended is what they call "victim-blaming", and it is a form of derailing, and putting the onus of offense onto the offended, instead of rightfully placing it onto the people trying to actually be offensive.I do not understand why our culture does this. Stop it, right now.
2-01-2012 @ 4:09PM
Everybody has had things said to them that make them feel bad, angry, or some other negative emotion. "They're just words" doesn't take you too far when you consider the fact that everybody is influenced by words constantly. It's our means of conveying our thoughts and, frequently, our emotions. They can make us feel good, bad, and everything in between. The only people that get nothing from words are sociopaths.
2-01-2012 @ 4:12PM
@shotiechanNo it absolutely is not, and honestly I hate whenever people start talking about "victim blaming" because it gets to the point where you can't say anything negative at all about the "victim" of the scenario without being talked to like you're basically advocating whatever happened to them.That aside being offended by something does not make you a victim. What you consider offensive other people do not, and what you don't other people may. You just stop letting stupid things get to you, and if you can't then you avoid those situations. I will never advocate stopping people from doing, or saying anything that is not direct and constant harassment.
2-01-2012 @ 4:14PM
@Matt:Reading through the responses, I can see that we come down on opposing sides of the viewpoint of what are the rights of the speaker and the rights of the listener when it comes to words that are perceived as offensive.Now before we strip to the waist and engage in a manly brawl, I will say that we are not directly opposite: you appear to defending the right of the individual to not have to put up with attacks, abusive behavior, words that are intent on inflicting personal pain. I respect that, and for the most part, agree with it, with the caveat that it CAN be taken too far. Conversely, I defend the right of the individual to choose what they will expose themselves to, and am vehemently against governing bodies, whether they are truly representative of the majority or not, deciding what words, ideas, and messages may be spoken by declaring what is offensive and what is not. I believe that only the individual can decide for themselves what is offensive.Where I think the fine line is between us is over *control.* Do I have the right to control what I am exposed to? Yes, I believe that's reasonable. Do I have the right to control what others say and do? No, I don't believe that's reasonable beyond a point of inherent danger (such as screaming "fire" in a crowded theatre, or bearing false witness in a court of law).I would remind folks that where this whole topic got started was not, should people be allowed to swear, insult, attack, etc. but instead from the question of, should a LGBT guild have the right to openly recruit? I personally believe there is a world of difference between someone dropping the N-bomb to be shocking or intentionally hurtful, and a LGBT guild in earnest trying to find like-minded members, but I do acknowledge that many people consider the very idea of acknowledging, much less accepting, the LGBT community to be highly offensive. So again, we are back to our fine line of control.No, I do not approve of people who are abusive attackers, but neither do I think broad censorship at an administrative level that catches many other elements in its net is the answer. The profanity filter is there for a reason, as is ignore. It's not a perfect solution, but given the realities of the game (and of the world) it's a better solution than most.
2-01-2012 @ 4:26PM
@shotiechan:"I do not understand why our culture does this. Stop it, right now."The reason our culture does this is because what is deemed offensive goes well beyond personal attacks. For example, did you know that, in many places, discussing religion openly is offensive? It's true. It unnecessarily antagonizes athiests, agnostics, or anyone who may not subscribe to the particular beliefs of the religion being discussed. Or perhaps you may be aware that discussing LGBT issues and legal rights is offensive, because many people have come to the spiritual conclusion that members of that community are at best, mentally ill, and at worst, a pox on humanity. As someone who is both religious and LGBT, I acknowledge that people may not wish to hear what I may have to discuss in earnest, and I am not offended if they choose not to listen. But I am greatly bothered by those who seek to control what I can say, period, claiming that I am disseminating offensive speech. So yes, I do think that in some cases, "being offended" is used as a cover for "controlling others." And that these are people who are indeed choosing to be offended, rather than allow an opposing viewpoint to have its say. We cannot merely make blanket statements about "offensive" speech like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
2-01-2012 @ 4:28PM
Words mean things. That's why we've been using them for the last 100,000+ years."Words are inherently meaningless" is a bullshit nihilist argument. Humans invented language, so trying to portray words outside of that context is a false supposition.
2-01-2012 @ 6:00PM
Quick story: I once walked in on a naive white guy talking to a black coworker that he was friendly with. The conversation was completely innocuous (I don't even remember what they were talking about) until the white guy says, "There's a colored guy in my class..." To which our coworker responded, "A WHAT guy in your class?" At this point I started listening pretty intently. Here's the long and short of what followed: The white guy, in trying to not offend the black guy, chose...poorly. The black guy explained to the white guy why that was not "cool" and told the white guy that it's fine to say "black." The white guy said, "Sorry," and the black guy said, "It's okay, you didn't know."Was the black guy wrong for being offended? No. Was the white guy using an offensive term? Yes. Here's what's more important: They treated each other with respect and spoke rationally and maturely. The white guy didn't mean any offense and the black guy was not personally offended, but recognized that the other person needed to know that there is a lot of meaning behind certain words.Right now, there's a semantics argument happening. The real issue is intent (on both sides). There are people just waiting to be offended just as much as there are people actively trying to offend others. The only way to remove yourself from the equation is to be cognizant of your environment. I say things that people would consider offensive all the time, but I say them to people who I know won't be offended. No one should have to walk on eggshells, but that doesn't mean you can say whatever you want, knowing that there are socially unacceptable words, and expect the community as a whole to embrace your self-centered worldview.tl;dr: Be an adult, recognize the power of language, and have respect for yourself and others.
2-01-2012 @ 6:13PM
It's intriguing that in Matt's post, he freely uses certain "curse words" yet makes sure to mask other words that are offensive, but perhaps in a different way. Defying the idea that "words are just words." Matt recognizes that certain words are just plain not good to use, because of the meaning that society has attributed to them. That's the point though, the word itself only has the power that we give to it. I largely agree with what Matt said. I also quite like what Loop said. If there is only one idea I could get across, it would be this: If you ever wonder why someone is bothered by certain words that you think are fine, I urge you to consider how you feel about other words that you consider NOT fine. The meaning you ascribe to a word may well be different from that of another individual. They are bothered because the word has a negative meaning, at least to them. You might think of it as a bundle of sticks, but to another person it could be a direct, personal attack on their self-worth.
2-01-2012 @ 6:47PM
@MichaelIn school, I was taught to use "African-American," but they never told us what to do when the person in question isn't AMERICAN. Recently, though, I had someone tell me that both "black" and "African-American" are offensive, and I should use the term "person of African decent." In a few years, that'll be pejorative too. There's a difference between someone trying and failing to keep up with the Euphemism treadmill and someone being deliberately insulting. People who call you a "Fucking moron" don't care that "moron" used be a neutral term for a person with mild mental retardation. They're just spewing insults.
2-01-2012 @ 7:09PM
@MattBefore I read your post, I would have probably said I disagree with your reasoning. So, you changed my views on that somewhat, in fact if I were to be honest with myself I'd say I completely agree.That being said, I think people take what Drumwiz is trying to say entirely too literally sometimes. I still agree with him, but not in a completely literal sense. The reason that being offended is a choice is not because people should be expected to not be offended by clearly offensive things, it's because no matter how much some people would like to believe they can, no one is going to change anyone else. So, if someone offends you, is it better to hold onto it and let it fester for the rest of your life, or to just choose not to let it bother you, tell them how you feel about what they said and move on? That would be my version of choosing not to be offended. It's not really that you're not offended, but more that it's not the end of the world as you know it if you are. Instead of going on the offensive and making yourself no better than whoever offended you, you can choose to be an adult about it. It's obviously unrealistic to think that nothing that is said to you is ever going to offend you in any way by your own volition. I think it's how it affects you after the fact to which Drum was referring. Like I said, you're not going to change the person that offended you. The most you can do is tell them how you feel (and they'll probably laugh at you and ignore it) and move on. That, to me, is choosing not to be offended.
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